Metropolitan State University President Ginny Arthur confirmed today the victim of Wednesday’s “racially motivated physical assault” on the St. Paul campus was a university employee. In an email to the university community, she said the employee was recovering at home.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that Tracy Hatch, vice president for finance and operations, indicated the victim is a staff member in Information Technology Services, but did not release his name.
According to the Pioneer Press, St. Paul police have not yet located the suspect, described by police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster as a white male with grey hair between five feet six and five feet eight inches tall. The suspect was wearing a white t-shirt and yellow pants at the time of the incident.
The assault occurred on the north steps outside of New Main at approximately 1:45 p.m. The suspect approached the employee from behind and asked, “What are you doing in my country?” before striking him across the face.
The suspect fled the scene, traveling west along Seventh Street and then into Swede Hollow Park. Anyone with information about the suspect is encouraged to contact the St. Paul Police Department.
The university was first alerted to the assault by email and automated phone calls on Wednesday at 4:31 p.m. Such alerts are mandated by university policy and federal law, in accordance with the Clery Act.
St. Paul police will investigate the incident as a potential hate crime, because the assailant targeted the Metro State employee on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Arthur provided several resources for members of the university community who are concerned about their safety or are experiencing elevated stress. These include counseling services, the dean of students, academic advisors and faculty members. Staff were encouraged to contact human resources representatives or the chief diversity officer with questions or concerns.
Metro State security officers and St. Paul police said they will increase patrols around campus in response to this incident.
This is a developing story. The Metropolitan will offer updates on the situation as we learn more.